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BBL to Expand PR Capabilities

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Laura McNamara has joined BBL Advertising as vice president, public relations, a new position at the agency.

McNamara will help BBL di-versify its client base, said agency president Barbara Sabran, adding that she was hired following a national search. "Our focus on electronics is very narrow, and we feel that there's so much more opportunity with other types of business," Sabran said. In particular, she said, the agency hopes to expand its client base to include a wider range of technology and financial services clients.

In addition to growing and strengthening BBL's public relations capabilities, McNamara is charged with defining public relations strategy and new-business development.

"It's a nice way to branch out of the financial services arena and into a different area," McNamara said of her decision to join BBL.

One goal for the five-person public relations department is to double revenue within the next month, Sabran said, adding that PR last year comprised roughly 20-25 percent of the agency's revenue. BBL also expects to hire three additional PR staffers within the next two months. The technology-focused agency reported 1999 revenue of $8 million, up nearly 130 percent from the previous year. The public relations division was previously led by Paul Hughes, who recently left BBL for an account director position at Harpell, Maynard, Mass.

McNamara joins the Acton, Mass., shop from Putnam Investments, where she was vice president, media relations since 1998. While at Putnam, she managed media relations activities and developed PR strategies and campaigns to build awareness and promote the image of the Boston-based company. She previously spent 13 years with Fidelity Investments in several roles, including director of public relations, where she oversaw publicity initiatives for the institutional services division.

BBL's PR unit currently counts clients such as Fairchild Semiconductor, Texas Instruments' Power division, back-office order processing company RV Systems, and QuadTech, a manufacturer of electrical safety testing equipment. Of those clients, only Texas Instruments is strictly a PR client.

"This year, we made a concerted effort to upgrade the management level of our staff," said Sabran. In addition to McNamara, the agency in April hired Leslie Hanlon as vice president of client services.